natematias's blog

Data Science VM: Set Up Your Server in Four Steps

Data Science VM is a script that automatically launches and configures a data science system on your computer or in the cloud in a half hour or less, across Linux, Windows, and OSX.

In my experience, any new machine for a serious project takes 3-5 days to set up. During my first semester at MIT, I spent weeks installing MediaCloud (it's easier now, I hear). I lost around 3 days each when my laptop was stolen in March of 2012, when my MacBook Pro died just before my thesis deadline, and when I started a summer internship at Microsoft. Setup time is also a major problem during hack days; I've attended too many events where the event ends just as the participants finish setting up their machines.

What It Includes

Society, Politics and the Algorithm: Social Science in the Lab

Kate Crawford introduces this session by reminding us that Technology is social and cultural. Microsoft's Social Media Collective looks at how social networks and social practices interrelate.

We're here at the Microsoft Research New England 5th anniversary symposium, where a fascinating collection of scholars are discussing computer science, big data, politics, society, and machine learning. This post was collaboratively created using NewsPad. I also wrote a post on a session from this morning: Progress and New Challenges in Machine Learning/Big Data

Progress and Challenges in Machine Vision, Computational Social Science, Polling, Machine Learning

Today, I'm live-blogging the 5th anniversary symposium of Microsoft Research New England, a gathering to discuss computer science, big data, politics, society, and machine learning.

The session on problems and challenges in machine learning and big data included fascinating talks on machine vision, computational social science, polling techniques, and machine learning.

What Goes Wrong When Computer Vision Fails?

"What happens when image recognition sees a car in a photo of a duck?" Antonio Torralba is associate professor at MIT in machine learning and computer vision.

Political & Journalistic Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Image

In an age of smartphone cameras and ubiquitous surveillance, what place is there for artists in politics? What does journalistic, political art look like?

This summer, I've been exploring the role of comics in nonfiction, blogging about Nick Sousanis's academic comics and interviewing Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld with The Atlantic. I was excited to hear Molly Crabapple at the Berkman Center today.

Crowd Curation: Participatory Archives and the Curarium Project

How can online platforms combine learning with crowdsourcing? Today at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the team behind Curarium explained the rationale behind their project and showed us wireframes of the upcoming design. It's a theme we're also considering at the Center for Civic Media; last year we featured a talk by Pamela Wright on Connecting Popular Audiences with the National Archives.

Charities in Seattle and Beyond

I'm just back from an amazing summer in Seattle at Microsoft Fuse Labs. As I unpack back at MIT, I'm enjoying great memories and stories of neighbourhoods and organisations that are doing fantastic work in Seattle. 

FareStart Guest Chef Night

FareStart Guest Chef Night, 2011, by Caffe Vita on Flickr

Before I left, I asked friends for suggestions of Seattle charities. Here are some of the organisations in Seattle and elsewhere that I chose to support, followed by the list of other awesome organisations I learned about this summer. Have I missed any? Add your suggestions in the comments.

How To Choose The Best Way to Create Change

"Sometimes you wake up and realise that you want to change the world."

Last week, Mark Simpkins wrote a blog post about how hard it is to know what to do if we want to create change. "When do I create a pledge? When do I contact my MP? When do I take to the streets?" he asks. "How do we move from someone who cares about an issue to taking action that will be genuinely meaningful? Might search or lists help people decide what to do?"

This blog post is my response to Mark.

CHANGE

Making Data Useful: Projects from the Microsoft Design Summit 2013

We live in a world alive with sensors and data. The big data, sensor networks and transparency movements have left us with a supply-side glut of potential useful free data that is lying fallow. How can we use this to improve life, local community and the world at large? Today, the Microsoft Design Expo, part of the annual Faculty Summit, showcased projects along this theme from design students at 8 universities.

Christian Hackathons? 14 app ideas from Code For The Kingdom

Is there such a thing as Christian hacking? The organisers of Code for the Kingdom, a 48 hour hack day with cash prizes, certainly believe so.

Last month, almost 150 people gathered in San Francisco for Code for the Kingdom, a hackathon that gave away $11,000 in prizes to teams developing Christian projects. The event also offered networking opportunities with Christian organisations and a team of 15 mentors that included VCs, religious leaders, and senior employees at major American tech companies. Projects focused on social organising, fundraising, social reading, quantified self, content filtering, and open data.

13 Latest Projects at the MIT Center for Civic Media

One of the most energetic sessions at the MIT Knight Civic Media Conference last week was the Civic Media Ignite, which presented thirteen projects by MIT teams and our partners.

(this session was reported with NewsPad, experimental software I'm building for collaborative live-editing of articles. Participation is currently anonymous. The quality in this post may vary.)

Mapping the News (Catherine D'Ignazio)

Ethan Zuckerman presented this session for Catherine, since she just gave birth.

What does media pay attention to? Mapping The News visualizes the connection between the geography of events paid attention to, and the geography of those paying attention. In this visualization of news coverage, we see that Boston Globe focuses on places that are a bit more privileged. Mapping the Globe also shows word clouds based on location, illustrating the differences of coverage received by a place, whether it's sports, business or violence.

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